Sugene Lee

So far…On & Off the Court

In NBA: LA Clippers on January 7, 2012 at 7:44 pm

On the Court

The Clippers haven’t exceeded the expectations of anyone around the league, but they haven’t quite disappointed us, yet.

People have a wild imagination of Chris Paul throwing lobs to Blake and DJ 24/7.But, they’re not thinking of how many lobs they’ll have on a game night, they’re not trying to get onto SportCenter’s Top 10, and they’re not trying to put on a show just to please everyone else’s expectations. They’re just trying to win games.

With the media magnifying the Chris Paul trade, they lost their advantage of going into games as the underdog team. Opposing teams have played against the Clippers with high expectations and either blew them off the court, or was blown off the court.

Luckily, the Clippers’ season doesn’t start out with back-to-back-to-backs or even back-to-backs… yet. As a team, who’s only been together for just over a little 3 weeks, they have the chance to have more practices together before game days and learn to gel together.

After just having five games into the regular season, they’ve proven to be a great offensive team and a mediocre defensive team. In their three victories against the Warriors, Trailblazers and Rockets, they held them down to an average of 87.7 points per game. However, in their two losses against the Spurs and Bulls, they gave up an average of 114.5 points per game.

They’re currently one of the worst rebounding teams in the league despite having arguably the best athletic bigs at the four and five positions. Blake Griffin, who used to average 12+ rebounds per game is now only averaging 9, while DeAndre Jordan is only averaging 7. The effort on the Clips’ rebounding end seems to be lacking as they continue to let undersized bigs box them out. No matter how good they are offensively, they will not be able to contend for a championship without defense. All their victories so far have been through playing good defense on the team.

Their defense isn’t consistent throughout the whole game, but there are moments during the games where they show potential to be a great defensive team. They’ve been emphasizing the importance of defense whether they won or lost, which should give ClipperNation something to be excited about.

Despite their poor performance on rebounding, which Reggie Evans and Solomon Jones can hope to help out with, two big improvements from previous seasons are their low turnover rates, averaging only 7 per game, and 3rd quarter starts. After last season’s horrendous 3rd quarter starts, the Clippers were able to come out strong in the 2nd half and most of the time, run away with the game. Their turnover rate, another  problem they had last season, is now ranked among the best teams with the lowest turnovers per game, while forcing their opponents with many, giving them more opportunities to score.

CP3 continues to be a great floor general along with Chauncey Billups at his side. He gets good open looks for his teammates, which should only be getting better as the year goes by. Caron Butler seems to remain consistent with his shots and Mo Williams, although a reserve, brings a ton of energy when he gets on the court. DeAndre Jordan is a blocking and dunking beast, but can still improve his rebounding, along with Blake. Blake is still the exciting player, but hasn’t become 100% on his mid-range jumpers, though he’s had multiple good ones so far (I still cringe every time he goes for the jumper), and I wish he would defend his opponents better (he’s my favorite player, but it still frustrates me when he doesn’t challenge any shots and just puts his arms up).

The Clips are deep in their one to three positions, but are lacking depth with their bigs. Brian Cook (the Luke Walton of the Clippers), playing forward and center right now, hasn’t shown too much potential to be a 2nd string (and pisses the crap out of me every time he’s on the court). Hopefully, with the addition of Reggie Evans and Solomon Jones, they will be better on the boards. Rookies, Travis Leslie was able to score his first NBA basket from an alley-oop from his teammate Trey Thompkins, but hasn’t had a lot of playing time because of their already deep bench in the guard position. On the other hand, Thompkins seems to show potential, showing confidence every time he gets on the court.

Only five games into the regular season, seven including preseason, there have been complaints from other teams and even fans about “excessive” flopping, celebration after dunks, and Blake’s deteriorating humble demeanor. For me, because I am such a die-hard fan, it’s hard for me to see these happenings until somebody points it out. I acknowledge it, but at the same time, because the Clips have been getting so much attention for the good, they also start getting a lot of attention for the bad. Before I start criticizing the Clippers, one thing I do know is that the Clippers don’t “celebrate each dunk like they won the dunk contest.” Especially, Blake Griffin. So whoever disagrees, go re-watch his games and point out where he’s acting like a wild animal after coming down from a dunk. Sure, Blake flopped a couple times, but what player hasn’t? He gets fouled more than what he’s called for but continues to play the game, kind of. What I wish he would stop doing is the “stare” he gives the ref for not calling it. This year only being his 2nd year doesn’t give him the advantage of getting the right calls all the time, and he should know that. So please, Blake, stop with the stares. You’re so much better than that.

Off the Court 

The Clippers haven’t let the hype get into their head. They haven’t been gloating about winning a championship like the Heats did last year, only resulting in thousands of anti-Heats fans. They’re able to stay humble and show determination to win games. Even with great veteran additions and the best true point guard in the league, they stay focused on how to improve to contend in the playoffs.

But, as a Clippers fan, I wish they would be the most perfect, best, humble winning team. Ever. While I know that’s not possible, especially this year, I really hope they play the game the right way.


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